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Peter Berkowitz; Norman Podhoretz; Alfred... Education. (2012) Panel 'Without Anti-Communism What Defines Conservatives Today?'

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  CSPAN    Book TV    Peter Berkowitz; Norman Podhoretz; Alfred...   
   Education.  (2012) Panel 'Without Anti-Communism What Defines...  

    January 1, 2013
    10:10 - 11:15am EST  

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the world correctly? it seems like that is an issue that was thrown and then and now >> one piece of good news is that since 9/11, a lot of people have become interested in the middle east and they never were before. they were forced to become interested in the middle east. not long ago i asked professor louis bourn in 1916 there were very few people from anywhere when he was. did you ever think that your field would become so important, so interesting in your field? she said no, not ever. that's good news. there are lots of people who know about the middle east and lots of different outlets. this is johnson of the "national review" in the university and so there are groups like the middle east research institute that
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translates materials in the middle east to lead a group that lets you know what is being said what is on television, what the serbians are, what school curricula are, what entertainment television shows or and they are shining a light on the middle east. and we don't have to rely now on just a few sources or just a few outlets. there are plenty of people who've been struck by curiosity about the middle east. it's all because of necessity. we didn't ask for it. it used to be open to very few people that knew about the middle east and knew the various groups. who later gave a thought to the kurds? who clacks but we used to know a lot about south africa. now that knowledge has faded and mother are semi experts on the
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middle east. >> the first answer to your question stop reading the new york times. [laughter] which much more than it used to. >> there is a sort of classic effort to see what is important and what is on important with accordance with the ideological scheme. i don't think there's an answer to this and it's very hard to get people to jump out of that in the case of the times, the liberal left in the view of the world except over a long period of time by pointing out a column
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of dissidents and discrepancy and so forth. i guess it is easier now in the sense that in the state department of i remember work stopped at 6:32 watch walter cronkite and tom brokaw. their interpretation of the news was critical for the u.s. government. likewise in the time of "newsweek". we have many more news broadcasts, so if we could just get rid of "the new york times" probably would be about 28% solved and a serious about that because the influence of the media elite throughout the country who look at it to determine how to understand the world. >> please join me in thanking
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our panelists. [applause] >> now from a conference on the 68 anniversary of the publication of whittaker chambers' "witness" a panel entitled >> someone was talking about the adulation which the world held alger hiss, and i don't know if everyone here is aware of that and auguste educational institution not far from here there is actually an alger hiss share in the humanities. my colleague in the new
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criterion has been on every degree the chair of the humanities prompted to get it back to the president's team. i'm delighted to welcome you to the final panel commemorating the 60th anniversary of whittaker chambers so' "witness" and i think we have seen the most contentious question for last. what defines conservatives today. i think in the context of "witness," and the work of bill buckley, today means after the cold war. we've said a little bit about that already this afternoon. but i like to say a little more specifically about it now. so, after the cold war, that
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means after impossible confrontation of communism and said the to and stan she added in by the evil empire of the soviet union and the west, in his letter to his children which has been mentioned already come chambers said that in communism he saw, quote, the concentrated evil of our time. bill buckley looked upon the enormity of communism, and indeed come conservatives of all stripes could agree about the hideous mess of the communist system which is why the world of the cold war was in many ways a tidy. of the soviet union provided a sort of - rallying point, something that conservatives of all sorts could define
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themselves against and i wondered about today what about today, how do conservatives to find themselves? that's the question that i hope the panel was going to come up with, and before we take things over to them, i want to make briefly to final points and one of which is a couple times this afternoon. conservatives were virtually at one in regarding the freedom lacking in the of which eurocommunism with repugnance, they were not i believe quite so unified in understanding communism of the thinkers like chambers and buckley. chambers readily acknowledged the features of communism, the gulag and so on. but he went further. communism, she said, was a vision of man without god coming and we have had that a couple
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times today. i want to emphasize that is the core of the phenomena. there was an elaboration of the promise, said chambers, the was made in the garden of eden. relinquish god and follow me and you shall be of god. that was the existential cat nap that fuelled the deep appeal of communism, and it is as built recognized an appeal that had the demise of the soviet empire. you remember that in god and man of yale he said the struggle between communism and 80 acs sun is the most important in the world come and this striking struggle between individualism and collectivism is the same struggle on a different level. now how conservatives have
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children and should deal with that survival is part of what we are charged with discussing on this panel. how we describe ourselves today and sent that manichean threat. the late irving kristol, a friend of many of us hear some of our situation with his customary in sight and elegance when he said in an essay written shortly after the collapse of the soviet union that, and i am quoting now, there is no after the cold war for me. so far after having ended michael barr come having increased in intensity sector after sector of american life has been corrupted by the liberal ethos that aims simultaneously at the political and social collectivism on the one hand, and the moral anarchy on the other.
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it cannot win. but it can make us all losers. to meditate on the means of this great contest, we have assembled a distinguished panel of chambers intellectual and moral errors. peter berkowitz is the current senior fellow at the hoover institution, where she shares the to hoover task force on a national-security and law and co-chairs the hoover task force on the virtue of a free society. in the past, he has served as an associate professor george mason university school small and an assistant and associate professor at harvard university. she is the author of "virtue and the making of modern and liberalism and the ethics of the moralist." he holds jd and ph.d. from science from this institution, and a and philosophy from the
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hebrew university in jerusalem and a b.a. in english literature from swarthmore college. norman podhoretz, who i feel silly introducing these people would still, have to. norman paul ha'aretz served as editor-in-chief from commentary magazine from 1960 to 1995, and as the current editor-at-large. he was awarded the presidential medal of freedom by george w. bush. he served as a senior fellow with hudson institute, and he was a senior fellow and is the author of many books and articles including the bush doctrine, with the president said, and what it means in world war iv, the longest struggle against the islamofacism coming and why are jews liberals which for the new criterion is really entitled why are jews still liberals? she was a pulitzer prize scholar at columbia university where he earned his bachelor's of arts in
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1950, and he also holds a bachelor's and master's degree from cambridge university england where she was a fulbright scholar and a fellow. in addition he has a bachelor's degree in hebrew literature from the jewish theological seminary. alfred regnery is the managing devotee of a new initiative called the paul revere project in new communications initiative and is the chairman of the intercollegiate studies institute. he was for many years the distinguished publisher of the american scholar. he took -- american spectator, sorry, american spectator, the magazine that he believed new life into and he's a former president and publisher of regnery publishing which originally published "witness" he served in the department of justice during the reagan administration and as deputy assistant attorney general and as administrator of the office
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of juvenile justice and delinquency is published many articles in his new book is a stream the descendants of american conservatism published in 2008. now mr. podhoretz asked to speak first, so i would like to offer him the floor. >> thanks, roger. as was mentioned, i made a vow never to set foot on a college campus again after a number of nasty experiences in a number of college campuses, and i now understand why they believed with a disavowal that has been broken. i was forced by these people to break a vowel and i will have to seek atonement in due course.
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for the reason that will become clear in a moment to this from the perspective of the new conservatism that all i want to talk about conservatism without and the communism. now, as one of its godfather's along with irving kristol i've been a neoconservatives for so long that i should be called a tdo neoconservative. but as the prefix indicates, on a and the other conservative intellectuals of the generation were new to conservatism having begun our political lives somewhere on the left. this leaves us more closely to whittaker chambers dan to bill buckley that was the manner that is born. that there is another even stronger link to whiteaker chambers in the force that drove most of us out of the left and into the right and that was anticommunism. now to be sure, unlike chambers,
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none of us have been a stalinist rather than a soviet agent. trotsky, a few had been liberals and a few of myself included have been associated with the new left. nevertheless, we were all scarcely less passionate in our anticommunism than chambers himself. we saw communism as an absolute evil fairly comfortable. but even more dangerous because of its far greater appeal in many more people than had never exerted. accordingly we felt it took upon ourselves a moral obligation with all of our intellectual might against communism and the world of ideas. and against its medish tactics bread for the military powers of the soviet union as its incarnation of the world at large. so far chambers like.
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but one which came to the force, the only force capable of holding the sprigg is the soviet power and in this way to help strangle the ideological cause served by that power. i'm going to quote chambers famous remark to his wife about his break with communism. i know that i'm leaving the winning side for the losing side but it is better to die on the losing side than to live under communism. i for one and my fellow neo conservatives agree with the second half of the declaration which amounted to the defiant repudiation of what came to be an elegantly known as anti-communist some and who is identified mark was the slogan better read than dead. but we strongly rejected the idea that america represented the losing side in the struggle
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against soviet expansionism and the communist plead that went with it. for the anti-communist passion we shared with chambers was inseparable from the commensurate powerful love and faith in the united states of america and the civilization for which it had gone to the war against the great carriers of the modern totalitarianism, first nazi germany and now communist russia. unlike chambers, we believe that the united states would eventually turn back the communist threats to the western civilization just as surely as it had done to the equally evil threat posed by nazi germany. not my view that we underestimated the line of the soviet military or the strength and resolve of the anti-communist forces both at home and abroad. both at times we can close during the chambers and other conservative anti-communist like
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james burnham who live in a book entitled suicide of the west we fear they might be right. for me when especially discouraging occasion is the fight against ronald reagan's decision in 1983 to station medium-range missiles in europe and to counter the soviet buildup of the soviet missile on its side has the dividing line of its domain on the west. massive protests were planned at home and all over the world was the biggest one scheduled for the hague to bridge over a million people every country in western europe were straining by plane and bus and shot. to cover it that the dutch broadcasters have a glass booth overlooking the square to which the protesters were all marching. they invited the pundits from the various european countries to sit there and comment on this great event. they were unable to find anyone
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in the whole of europe will be more able to support reagan's decision which is why i received a panicked call what the last minute inviting me to participate. so desperate for they to spice up their discussion. the role of i often play in those days the fly kneal from the monstrously extensive concord. and so it came about that a few hours later i found myself arguing for a whole day against the relentless opponents five if you can the moderator that made crowley seen a moderator of impartiality. [laughter] ..
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not to defend communism. that was too hard to do even for actual communists but to attack america. this country, they said, with the president repressive at home as the persistence of such evils as racism and poverty and also a force for evil in international affairs says "witness," the war in vietnam, opposition to any and every movement by the people
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of the third world to improve their lives. this particular species of anti-americanism began its long march through the institutions of american culture in the 1960s as professor hill mentioned earlier and in an amazingly short time as thoroughly infected the usual suspects, the universities, the machine streamy the and the arts both low and high but also had the unanticipated consequence of jolting some of us into a discovery or in some cases a rediscovery of the virtues that as we now realize made this country not merely worth defending against its ideological enemies but something much more than that. i myself went so far as to place america among the highest points of human civilization on par with periclean athens or the italy of the medicis or
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elizabethan england or the russia of tolstoy and dostoevsky. america did not belong on that list because of its achievements in the arts. it belong there because by remaining loyal to the principles of -- a firm declaration of independence it had developed into a country in which there was more liberty and more prosperity, more widely shared than in any other nation in the history of the world. if whitaker chambers had lived to hear it he would have been shocked by that statement. he most certainly did not heartache of the anti-americanism of the left but there was a bitter critic of america on the right in which he did critique. this critique goes back to the earliest days of the republic and focuses on what is mentioned several times already, the alleged materialism of american
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life, the putative crassness of its culture and supposedly philistines indifference or hostility to things of the spirit, all of which seem to flow from what even coke will called quote max the exclusively commercial habits he claimed were brittany american mold. whitaker chambers felt capitalism had reached the end of its tether and communism was the only alternative on author with a vision and power to save whenever might be worth salvaging out of a dying civilization. yet when he finally discovered that the evils of communism were infinitely greater than those he attributed to capitalism he did not there by come to the conclusion that he had been wrong about america.
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america under capitalism remained in his idea a society dying of its own small business which -- sold --soullessnes--so. he could not say he was leaving the side of evil for the side of good. this is also why "witness" among the greatest book ever written about communism, i am afraid of little little help as a guide to what conservatism can or should be without anti communism. neither in "witness" or in later years did chambers change his mind about the free market. in the even preferred galbraith to hyek claiming he talked as if the right was acquiescing the socialist needs and hopes of the masses for the purpose of national review was to make the opposition case.
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it is a good thing that -- that was willie schlum. with the exception of a born-again, unite like pat buchanan and his fellow paly l conservatism without grand anticommunist and had not followed in the entire capitalist footsteps of chambers. good thing it has instead remain united by the truth that economic freedom is an indispensable constituent elements of freedom in general and it must therefore be defended against all comers, emphatically not excluding the present administration. nevertheless i would argue that this belief while necessary is not sufficient and it needs to be extended to a proper appreciation of why and how the united states of america has become one of the highest points in the history of civilization. furthermore contrary to what most liberals and even some
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conservatives contend the united states has also been an exceptionally powerful force for good in the world at large. if not for the united states patronized by intellectuals everywhere on the left and the right, many millions of people who are now living in freedom would still be suffering under the totalitarian horrors of nazism and communism. what i am trying to say is if conservatism without anti communism are to become as vital again as it was with anti communism it would have to open its eyes more fully to the greatness of america and it will have to fight as passionist a war against anti-americanism whether on the left or the right as whitaker chambers once so nobly did against communism. thank you. [applause]
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>> thank you. before i talk about the current state of the conservative movement -- i host the pumpkin papers which commemorate whitaker chambers. some of you have been there and stan has spoken to. you pick up all these little things about whitaker chambers and there's one great story and like to tell that when chambers finished writing "witness" and he wrote it largely longhand, he wanted to have it published by the largest one of the largest american publishers. so he called and made an appointment at random house, they gave -- he came in and introduced himself to the woman at the front desk. she called up to his office and
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said whitaker chambers is here. there was a pause on the other side, get that son of a bitch out of here. apparently surf and an intern who worked for him who had never said anything before. he helps with his files and so on and he stood up and said mr. search, you are making a mistake. whitaker chambers is an eminent man, he has a very powerful story to tell and he has written a book that needs to be published. and he saw him and random house did publish him. we bought the paperback rights ten years later and subsequently published it. to start with, when whitaker chambers was -- when he published "witness" there really was no conservative movement. there were a few people that spoke about anti communism and a few people who spoke about free-market economics and a few
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people who spoke about traditional values but they were not a movement and they didn't know each other. there was no support that there is now. when "witness" was published it caused a sensation, but it wasn't because it was a conservative versus liberal book. with a book that was a spy story for one thing as well as being a great piece of literature. it was an instant best seller that stayed on the list for a long time but it wasn't because there was a conservative movement. the conservative movement evolve over the next 20 or 30 years, perhaps it is still evolving. when national review was founded in 1955 that brought a lot of people together. interestingly many of the people who were very national review were former communists. not only whitaker chambers, frank meyer, willie flom and a good many others who were the
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guiding lights. you have to understand as the conservative movement grew anti-communist rally was the colonel that kept it together. it was the driving force, what actually recruited activist people, what organizations were started a round, there was a lecture circuit in the 50s and people went around the country speaking largely about communism. i recall as i was growing up my father published countless books and there was a book after book about communism. many were deeply intellectual books about the theory of communism. others were more practical book about what it was all about. it was really a big deal. we forget that in american foreign policy until the fall of the soviet union the entire focus was basically the soviet union and communism and things that emanated from it. the intelligence community, the counterintelligence community was focused on communism. as the conservative movement
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grew into the 60s and 70s continually communism was the focus. as i mentioned there were other strands of it, the libertarians are economic conservatives, some of whom were critical of the anti communists because they thought it meant it would increase the size of government but nevertheless they were second stringers if you will. haty hatyek, contemporaries of chambers and russell kirk, one represented the other two strands but until the 70s probably communism was the dominant thing. something i have wondered about is when ronald reagan was elected, as you look at the history of the conservative movement anti communism became less of a deal and with ronald reagan the people who were anti-communist felt they had an anticommunist in charge who was commander in chief and felt comfortable letting him fight
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communism so they didn't need to put the same amount of emphasis into it they had and focused on other things. let's turn for a few minutes to where the movement is today after anti-communist and we have had 25 years since communism to figure out where the conservative movement goes, but there are certainly some things that are different but a great many things are the same. the tenets of conservatism are the same as they were when people started talking about them. i struggled a lot with what is it that conservative believe. it is the question we are always asked and is often difficult to come up with a coherent answer. the four things that i call the pillars of conservatism which i think all fit together and probably define it as well as anything else are the following,
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liberty which of course means the exercise of free will and the pursuit of virtue, the rule of law, the protection of minorities of due process, predictably, the constitution, third would be tradition and order and the fourth, believe in god and now we're back to the question we asked before. even if you go back and look at the greek and roman philosophers, the british philosophers, the constitution you will find all of those four things in virtually every phrase that comes along. i have been reading the last couple weeks the new biography of thomas jefferson by john nietzsche, an interesting book and notice that consistently in quoting jefferson, a great many things you have never seen before, quote and discussions of jefferson, he is always talking
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about liberty, the rule of law, tradition, order and belief in god and that the finds probably as well as anything i can think of where the conservative movement comes from today. let me talk about the current more political part of the movement. i am part of as many of you are and we came out of the campaign and the left as they always do say that is the end of conservatism and i remember in 1964 when goldwater was defeated the new york times had said that was not only the end of conservatism but republican is in as well lands we have been here before this and doesn't make a great deal of difference, the movement goes along. certainly the conservative movement probably define the american politics as much as any other thing right now. by exit polls and other polls people define themselves as conservative by 2:1 to liberals who surround 40% to 20% of the population. it goes up and down depending on
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what is happening. it is safe to say the country is center right. the conservative movement is as cohesive and together as it has ever been. i am part of a group that meets every week in chairs in washington made of 25 or 30 leaders of the conservative movement, presidents of organizations and includes the libertarians, it includes the christians conservatives, it includes the foreign policy conservatives, we pretty much all along on everything. i don't think there are many things we disagree on. we discussed every issue that comes along every week and we also have two meetings a year that bring in the heads of 100 conservative organization. we had one two or three weeks ago after the election and they are as enthusiastic as ever. the movement continues to grow. there are always new young
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riders coming along, there are all sorts of periodicals of course and things that are vibrant for any movement by that that is going to stay alive so generally speaking given the ups and downs of politics it is in as good shape as it has ever been. i am the chairman of the studies institute, those of you in this room participated air, an organization of students that is growing, constantly doing a number of amazing things on college campuses across the country. it has largest list of professors associated with any organization in the country outside the association of american university professors. somewhere in the 15 to 20,000 range of professors so there are all sorts of things going on. it will continue to go on. to summarize coming back to whitaker chambers, it is safe to
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say that what chambers did as mentioned earlier in the conference was to introduce people to the fact that communism was a real threat and that it coalesce people, the fact that bill buckley barack chambers to the national review was a stroke of genius and i commemorate the buckley program for doing this program on chambers, the second when you have done because again i think he was one of the most important people even for the short span of time he was at national review for what he stood for. let me stop there. [applause] >> thank you. first i want to say is an honor to be on the same panel with two men to have done so much to build conservatism in america. the short answer and long answer to the question that we were asked to address. the short answer to the question what the fines conservatism in
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america today, devotion to conserving the principles of limited government in america. now my longer answer. as for whitaker chambers, it seems to me for us, defense of freedom today depends on reconciling freedom and tradition. chambers managed to do that in "witness" or in his thinking for all his great accomplishment. the reconciliation of freedom and tradition depends upon a virtue called political moderation. the problem today is the virtue of political moderation is out of favor but it has distinguished roots in american constitutionalism and modern conservatism. in recovering and cultivating political moderation is essential to the renewal of a constitutional conservatism that is devoted to liberty and
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self-government and conservatism around which both social and conservatives and libertarians can rally. it is a misfortune inseparable from human affairs that public measures are rarely investigated with that spirit of moderation which is essential to a just estimates of the tendency to advance or obstruct the public good so observed james madison in federalist no. 37. the challenge, madison went on to explain, is more sobering still because the spirit of moderation is more apt to be diminished than promoted by those occasions which require an unusual exercise of it. in a similar spirit, the year america was depending independence and watching our great experiment in constitutional self-government edmund burke stopped to conserve in great britain the conditions
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under which liberty flourished. to the end burke expose the errors of depending on abstract theory for guidance and practical affairs. he taught the supremacy and political life of prudence for the judgment born of experience bound up with circumstances and bred in action. team maintained a good policy as be fitted the people's moral sentiment and opinions. he demonstrated that in politics the imperfections of human nature must be taken into account and virtue must be respected. he showed the political moderation frequently counsels rejecting the panel of least resistance and political moderation that sometimes exercise in defending principles staunchly against majority opinion. madison's words are an example as pertinent in our time as they were in their own. today's conservatives should heed them to come to grips with two and french realities, to
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post genuine challenges to liberty and whose prudent management is critical to the nation's well-being. the first and french reality, forgive me for saying this, is the era of big government is here to stay. this is particularly important for libertarians to absorb. over the last 200 years society and economy and advanced industrial nations have undergone dramatic transformation. for two quarters of a century and new deal settlement has been reshaping american expectations about the nation state's reach and roll. consequently the u.s. federal government will continue to provide a social safety net, regulate the economy and shoulder substantial share of responsibility for safeguarding the social and economic base of political equality. all signs are significant majority of americans want it to continue to do so. in these circumstances conservatives must redouble
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their efforts to reform sloppy and incompetent government and to resist government's in hair and expansionist tendencies and progressivism's reflexive proclivities but the attempt in today's circumstances to dismantle or even substantially rolled back the welfare and regulatory state reflects a distinctly and conservative refusal to ground political goals in political reality. conservatives can and should focus on restraining spending, reducing regulation, reforming the tax code and generally raining and our sprawling federal government but conservatives should retire misleading talk of small government. instead they should think and speak in terms of limited government. the second entrench reality testing social conservatives is the sexual revolution. perhaps the greatest social revolution in human history. the invention and popularization
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in the 1916s of the birth control pill achieved convenient and effective way to prevent pregnancy, was momentous. for the first time in human history women could reliably control reproduction. is greatly enhance their ability to enter the work force and pursue careers. also transformed romance, reshaped the structure of the family and refashioned marriage. it is still doing so. bridesmaid still wed in virginal white, promise for love and cherish for better and worse until death to the card and children or child may still lie in the future for most married couples. nevertheless 90% of americans engage in premarital sex, cohabitation before marriage is common, out of wedlock births are substantial, divorce while emotionally searing is no longer unusual, legally difficult or socially stigmatizing, children once the core reason for getting
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married have become optional, civil unions for gays and lesbians have acquired majority support. same-sex marriage is not far behind. these profoundly transformed circumstances do not -- social conservatives to alter their fundamental convictions. social conservatorship makes the case for traditional understanding of marriage with children at the center, for it intended cumin rewards and for the benefit the married father and mother bring to rearing children. conservatorship back family friendly policy and should seek within the democratic process to persuade fellow citizens to adopt socially conservative views and vote for candidates devoted to them. but given the enormous changes over the last 50 years in the united states and the way individuals understand and experience marriage in the family and with the view to the enduring imperative of limited
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government, social conservatives should refrain from using the federal government to enforce traditional understanding of sex, marriage and family. social conservatives can remain true to their principles about sex, marriage and family even if they adjust their expectations of what can be achieved through democratic politics. they can remain true to their principles if they renew their appreciation of limits to the american constitutional government imposes on regulating fellow citizens conduct of their private lives. some conservatives worry that giving any ground, sometimes in regard to the welfare and regulatory states and in regard to the sexual revolution, sometimes in regard to both is tantamount to sanctifying the progressive status quo. that is the mistake of danger, circumstances as they are is a precondition for preserving one's principles and translating them into such a viable reform.
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under the shadow of big government and libertarians and social conservatives can preserve their most deeply held beliefs, they can of firm together the dignity of the person, the inseparable -- in separate ability of human dignity from individual freedom and self-government, defendants of individual freedom and self-government on a thriving civil society and the paramount importance of the constitution on maintaining political framework that secures liberty by limiting government. confusion persists in many quarters about what a return to the constitution entails. some hard-driving conservative see such an undertaking as an opportunity to restore simplicity and purity to american politics. influential progressive politicians and pundits have tried to portray a return to the constitution as a reactionary grasping after an imagined past.
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both opinions are at odds with the balancing and blending gephardt of constitutional conservatism. at least the constitutional conservatism that takes its bearings, the federalist and high points of post world war ii american conservatism. what is constitutional conservatism? very briefly, constitutional conservatism or constitutional conservatism well understood, puts liberty first and teaches the political moderation that is indispensable in securing, preserving and extending liberty's blessings. the american constitution it seeks to conserve presupposes natural freedom and eat quality. the constitution draws legitimacy from democratic consent and from the protection of individual rights. the constitution limits and enumerate government powers while providing government
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incentives and tools to discharge its responsibilities effectively. it reflects and refines popular will to a complex scheme of representation. it provides checks and balances by dispersing and blending power among branches of the federal government as well as between federal and state governments. assumes the constitution does, the primacy of self-interest but also the capacity and necessity for citizens to rise above it through the exercise of power cue. the constitution welcomes a diverse array of voluntary associations as an expression of liberty to prevent anyone from dominating, and because they serve in schools for the virtues of freedom. the constitution recognizes its special role of family and religious faith in cultivating these virtues. constitutional conservatism well understood as not mandate particular policies, specific clause, it does bring into focus
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the overarching considerations that in a free society should inform policy and underlying law. to be sure, honoring the imperatives of constitutional conservatism will require both social conservatives and libertarians to bite their fair share of bullets as they translate principles into policy. conservatives will work from a position of strength as there, they balance and calibrate on behalf of individual freedom on which the highest political hopes depend. that strength derives from the lesson of moderation inscribed in constitutional conservatism well understood. that is all. [applause] >> thank you to the panelists. we are running a little late. i want to get some questions on the floor.
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i found all of the talks very interesting. peter's the most provocative. i hope someone might think of quoting bill buckley's comment from the first issue of national review about the ambition of conservatives being to stand before history yelling stop, which sounds somewhat different, very different note from yours. the economist herbert stein said that which cannot go on forever won't. i just wonder if this welfare behemoths you describe that we should make peace with should go on forever and whether conservatives can make their peace with it. i am understand the qualifications you had but i am going to stop and turn the
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microphone over. >> is there something we could draw from whitaker chambers and also from bill buckley dealing with what peter just said which is a brilliant presentation i hope we will get copies of it and think about it and talk about it and debate it for some time to come. bill buckley, the idealist, and whitaker chambers, a realist, and i base this upon a letter that chambers wrote to bill buckley in which he said he preferred the chesterfield option, the chesterfield option, dealing with the idea of prudence and moderation and to put it in your terms, this would be burkeeven. i'm trying to get the right words that this is a paraphrase
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hopefully. the challenge, said chambers to buckley, the challenge is how much to give up to obtain a political policy or bowl and how much not to give up to preserve figure out. home free has refused to obey
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and my exportation is not that there is not an absolutely indispensable role for conservatives who continue to say history to stop a role in recognizing that taking those developments into account. >> does -- slowing down count? >> slowing down is what i was advocating. aggressive, principled reform as far as you can go but in practical terms, a dream which i sometimes hear the language, a dream of small government really is a fantasy, but that doesn't prevent us from returning to what is best about our founding, but founding principles about small government, and the constitution was on the side of
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large government. the anti federalists' said you are creating that behemoth that will swallow everything. and they were acutely aware, what did they agree on? the government had to be limited, aggressively, out of principle to protect liberty. i couldn't be more in favor, where i began, with aggressively limiting government in accordance with founding principles. what i want to avoid is getting lost in the debate over small government in. in my opinion lead nowhere valuable. >> we can ask how much worse it would be if we were not doing what we were doing. >> time for a couple more questions. walk up to the microphone. >> much of the power in "witness" is in the ability of
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whitaker chambers to give us a bright line between treason and loyalty to one's country and between materialism and idealism or faith. part of this discussion is the enduring lessons we get, one looks now for where the line can be drawn today and the dimmer line between various forms of political radicalism that president obama is heir to and the arguments that failed in the last election of conservatives that represent a legacy that the american polity should reject. norman has given us the idea that american greatness can be
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reasserted, and core principles of the american constitutional order, can you call for a principle of moderation, do any of those that have to another bright line of the kind that whitaker chambers evolve for us and feed american conservatives? >> you pose a difficult problem. the bright line chambers through did not hold all that firmly even then. there were violent arguments about what constituted patriotism or loyalty. nobody argued that espionage was
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a good thing, but the accusation was always made that all this stuff was an attempt to discredit liberalism and the new deal and we now have in our own time we heard it said not since obama was in office, dissidence is the highest form of patriotism. i don't buy that. i don't buy it at all. of course the democrats no longer say that. i hardly dared tell you where i would draw the line. federal marshals will materialize out of the walls, and lock me up immediately. i was delicately suggesting that even whitaker chambers, who was
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a great man and "witness" is a great book, but whitaker chambers fell into the misguided view of america that was prevalent, not so prevalent but always existed on the right. understanding of the precious value and virtues of the society, even now. and denigrating it which is quite consistently, and he saw a lot in common between chambers and canon, i have been rereading "witness" and i said to my wife last night chambers has a lot in common with george kennedy. when i said this, they were
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deeply patriotic. i said no they weren't. i don't think they were traitors or anybody, and the greatness of value, and they hated cities and thought there was something wrong with success and material comfort, you were more virtuous if you have old clothes rather than new clothes. i draw a line, those who aren't. that gets me into a lot of
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trouble, i hardly dared developed the idea even in this company. >> we have time for one more question if there is one more question. >> i have got to thank the panelists, allows me to break my vow never to use one of these forums to make a statement but i couldn't resist. the more or less government arguments is a dead end for conservatives. without addressing the fundamental factors that drive public demand, connected to the complexity of society and rapid technological change because rulemaking as eleanor rostrum demonstrated in her work is an effort to stabilize expectations about the future.
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way out is to think about governance because governance is about the things that government does that help people stabilize their expectations about the future and manage the risks that come with living in an uncertain time. avoidance of this concept called the government, the government does this, the government does that, is the rarified state which is the hubris statement about the absence of god, a society without god. the government becomes the idle. what i would suggest for the conservatives who want to restore the notion of the original principles of limited government is to focus on teaching the science of association, teaching the science of association will give people access to the technology and rulemaking that allows
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governments to be conducted in the little platoons that make up society and i would welcome any thoughts or comments panelists have on that and i think professor berkowitz for raising that issue. >> i agree with the last part of your remarks, which is that we should do what is in our power to encourage burke's little platoons, the science of association because these are the real schools of virtue, family, religious community, political associations of all sorts. but i can't agree with your advice that we stop thinking about limited government. i think it is extremely important that we be mindful. the two ideas are important, we
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be mindful of those tasks that government is permitted to do under the constitution, partly a legal question and a practical question, we have to think about those tasks that government is competent at doing and third, and i really making toquevilleian points, we have to think about those tasks the government could do but we would be better off, could legally do, might do fairly well but we would all be better off if we did them for ourselves. mine medium length answer, summary of my medium length answer is we need to think very carefully about both, principles of limited government and the science of association. >> everything you say is true but the fact of the matter is we
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are engaged in a great political ideological war which is not always identified as such. we have a president who unfortunately has been reelected, who as we all know promised before he was first elected five days before to radically transform this country. paulino pretty well into what he wishes to transform it. we say politely a facsimile of the social democratic system's regime of western europe. that is the least of it. that would be the minimal strategic objective of our president and his administration and limited government, we have to think about what we can do or can't do. we have to bear in mind that though we lost this